Serena Williams has revealed she saw a therapist following her infamous meltdown in the 2018 US Open final against Naomi Osaka. The 23-time Grand Slam winner was defeated by the young Japanese star in the controversial encounter.
The American was heavily criticised after an outburst in which she called the umpire a “liar” and a “thief”, after she was handed a code violation for coaching. She eventually had a point taken away for smashing her racquet before being penalised a game for verbally abusing the officials.
AFP reported that she consulted a therapist to deal with the backlash. “I couldn’t find peace. I started seeing a therapist,” Williams wrote in a first-person account published in US glossy magazine Harper’s Bazaar.
“I was searching for answers, and although I felt like I was making progress, I still wasn’t ready to pick up a racquet.”
The letter appeared online during her win over Alison Riske in the Wimbledon quarter-finals on Tuesday, July 9th. She said she has apologised to Osaka for taking the “shine” of her big moment.
“I am so proud of you, and I am truly sorry. I thought I was doing the right thing in sticking up for myself. But I had no idea the media would pit us against each other,” said the 37-year-old Williams.
“I would love the chance to live that moment over again. I am, was, and will always be happy for you and supportive of you.”
She added: “I would never, ever want the light to shine away from another female, specifically another black female athlete.”
Williams said that Osaka had accepted her apology. The 21-year-old was tipped to be the heir to Williams’ throne after following up her US Open win with a victory in the Australian Open in January. However, following her split with long-time coach Sascha Bajin in February, she has struggled. She was knocked out of French Open and Wimbledon in the early stages later in the year.
Despite her apology, Williams still insists that she was a victim of sexism from the umpire in that game. “Why is it that when women get passionate, they’re labelled emotional, crazy, and irrational, but when men do they’re seen as passionate and strong?
“So often, in situations similar to mine, when men fight back against the referees, they’re met with a smile or even a laugh from the umpire, as if they’re sharing an inside joke. I’m not asking to avoid being penalised. I am asking to be treated the same way as everyone else. Sadly, that’s simply not the world we currently live in.”